How to read a tape measure – for project success

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Whether you’re measuring for model shades, fitting shelves, oregon moving connected a operation task knowing however to work a portion measurement correctly is essential. 

Accuracy successful measuring could beryllium the quality betwixt occurrence oregon nonaccomplishment – and it volition surely forestall a discarded of some materials and time, particularly if you're approaching a ample project, specified arsenic wallpapering a room.

Our usher has each the details indispensable to get measurements right, arsenic good arsenic the lowdown connected the further accusation with which a portion measurement tin supply you. 

How to work a portion measure

In the US, a portion measurement mostly uses the imperial system, though it whitethorn besides amusement metric measurements, and we’ll supply you with details connected the latter, too. 

This is however to work a portion measurement the close way, and we’ll punctual you, too, of the saying ‘measure twice, chopped once’ – worthy pursuing each time.

Read the markings

Tape measure

(Image credit: Getty Images)

The longest vertical enactment marks the inches connected an imperial portion measure. There volition beryllium a fig beside it, but it’s the enactment itself that marks each inch erstwhile measuring. 

At 12 inches, determination whitethorn beryllium a ft marking, and the consequent inch increments mightiness commencement again from one, oregon transportation on. 

In betwixt each full inch, determination are further markings, showing sixteenths of an inch. It is imaginable to get portion measures showing smaller fractions, but generally, the sixteenths are the smallest. A measurement of two-sixteenths equals one-eighth, and truthful on, erstwhile measuring.

A vertical enactment successful the halfway betwixt 2 inches shows each fractional inch, and is apt to beryllium the 2nd longest enactment aft the inch line. Shorter lines betwixt each full inch and the fractional inch marking amusement the 4th inches, meanwhile, and the sixteenths are the shortest lines.

Read metric markings

If the portion measurement besides shows metric markings, the longest lines with numbers beside them bespeak centimetres with the abstraction successful betwixt divided into millimetres, and a longer enactment successful the halfway for a fractional centimetre (5mm).

Measure accurately

A retractable metallic portion measurement has a hook astatine its end, and erstwhile you’re measuring with 1 of these, this should beryllium hooked connected the borderline of what you are measuring. The measurement tin past beryllium pulled crossed the worldly oregon entity to instrumentality a measurement.

When taking a measurement wherever you can’t hook the portion measurement astir the borderline of an item, propulsion the hook against the broadside of a corner, doorway frame, etc to measure.

‘To guarantee measurements are accurate, ever marque definite the portion measure’s hook is afloat pulled retired erstwhile hooked implicit the borderline of something, and afloat pushed successful erstwhile it’s against a surface,’ says Lucy Searle, planetary exertion successful main of Homes & Gardens.

Read the portion measurement wherever it meets the borderline of what’s being measured, rounding upwards if the measurement falls betwixt 2 lines. ‘If you chopped excessively short, you’ll discarded material,’ cautions Lucy.

Additional readings connected a portion measure

There is immoderate further accusation a portion measurement tin provide. Red numbers each 16 inches amusement partition stud spacing. Meanwhile, diamond shapes each 19 3/16 inches amusement joist spacing. 

Mistakes to debar erstwhile speechmaking a portion measure

Make definite not to crook the portion measure if you’re measuring wrong an object. Instead marque usage of the measurement connected the portion measure’s housing, which shows its size. 

‘Put the basal against 1 broadside of the object, past propulsion the portion measurement crossed until the hook is against the different side,’ says Lucy Searle. ‘Then each you request to bash is adhd the measurement from the portion and the measurement of the basal to get the full magnitude needed.’

Don’t fto the portion measurement sag arsenic you measure, peculiarly implicit a longer distance, arsenic this volition marque the effect inaccurate.

Tape measure

(Image credit: Getty Images)

If you are utilizing a flat, ribbon-style portion measure, past enactment the metallic ‘zero’ extremity up against 1 broadside of what you privation to measure, clasp successful spot with 1 hand, past determination the portion crossed the distance. The portion should beryllium taut but not stretched.

The vantage of a ribbon-type portion measure? It tin spell astir objects. If you are measuring this way, marque definite to support the portion level each the mode astir for an close reading.

‘Older portion measures of this benignant tin go stretched implicit time, truthful I would ne'er counsel utilizing 1 of these for trade oregon construction,’ says Lucy Searle. ‘Newer versions are amended arsenic they won’t stretch, but I urge investing successful a retractable metallic portion measurement arsenic good due to the fact that of its utile features.’ We similar the Craftsman 25 ft portion measure from Amazon.

Which broadside is cm connected a measuring tape?

Where cm (centimetres) are located connected a measuring portion depends connected the idiosyncratic portion measure. On some, the imperial measurements are connected the apical with the metric (cm) measurements connected the bottom. On different portion measurement designs the inches mightiness beryllium connected 1 broadside with the centimetres connected the reverse side. 

The portion measurement whitethorn good person the words inch and cm by the scales and you tin besides instrumentality a look astatine the smallest divisions betwixt the full numbers. On the metric standard of the portion measurement determination volition beryllium 10 spaces successful betwixt each full centimetre.

What is the easiest portion measurement to read?

The easiest portion measurement to work is astir apt 1 with conscionable wide imperial markings (or conscionable metric) connected some edges. Look for cleanable lines and full numbers you tin work easily; you mightiness besides privation a plan with the fractions printed connected it.

‘Although a portion measurement with imperial measurements lone is apt to beryllium easiest to read, it is worthy reasoning astir investing successful 1 with metric measurements arsenic good for good measuring without having to enactment successful fractions,’ says Lucy Searle.